By editorial board • 

Salinas/Noble matchup would best serve 6th District voters

We find the race to fill Oregon’s new 6th Congressional District one of the easier to call on both sides of the political divide.

In the nine-member Democratic field, state Rep. Andrea Salinas easily boasts the richest resume, having served as an aide in three different congressional offices, lobbied Congress for a leading environmental organization and served three terms in the Oregon Legislature. 

We think that makes Salinas best prepared to hit the ground running in Congress. Others widely agree, as she has been picking up most of the major endorsements.

Her closest competitors in that regard are state Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon and former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith. The other six Democratic contenders have never won elective office or held staff posts in a legislative or congressional arena.

On the Republican side, state Rep. Ron Noble stands out in an otherwise undistinguished seven-member field. Noble made integrity and independence the hallmarks of a career in law enforcement, then applied the same traits in the Oregon Legislature, quickly earning plaudits on both sides of the aisle.

Jim Bunn got his chance in Congress almost 30 years ago and blew it in spectacular fashion. Mike Erickson, Amy Ryan Courser and Nate Sandvig are business executives who’ve shown little if any previous interest in public service. Salem psychologist Angela Plowhead and Dundee Mayor David Russ are notable only for the stridency of their invective.

If Republicans don’t rally around Noble, they are going to miss one of the best shots they’ll ever get to win a congressional seat in Oregon’s populous Willamette Valley.

While the Republican race is playing out as a rather low-spending affair, the Democratic race is so awash in money it’s earning national notoriety. And the credit goes largely to something utterly foreign to the vast majority of 6th District voters — cryptocurrency.

Carrick Flynn, such a political neophyte he appears to have voted only three times this century, has been blessed with independent PAC commitments of more than $7.5 million. To put that in perspective, Salinas’ frontrunner status had earned her just $660,000 at last count.

Some $5.8 million of the Flynn larder was bestowed by a PAC associated with Sam Bankman-Freid, a 29-year-old cryptocurrency billionaire. And one of its aims appears to be staving off the kind of cryptocurrency regulation favored by rival Democratic contender Matt West, an Intel engineer.

Flynn, who moved to McMinnville in November 2021, boasts a compelling rags-to-riches back story. He grew up poor in Vernonia, parlayed scholarships into degrees from the University of Oregon and Yale Law School and established a career in artificial intelligence, biotechnology and pandemic response, in D.C. and abroad. But his outsized funding has been catching most of the attention. 

Adding to the intrigue is Cody Reynolds, a cryptocurrency trader who’s dumped $2.5 million into a bid of his own.

He’s run as Steven or Steven Cody Reynolds five times previously in recent years, billing himself variously as a Progressive, Independent, Pacific Green or Libertarian. This is his first run simply as Cody, first as a Democrat and first featuring such lavish investment.

Salem physician Kathleen Harder is running a commendably high-energy and issue-oriented campaign, but it’s hard for a candidate lacking both prior governmental experience and substantial PAC funding to get traction in this field. 

The new district stretches down from the Portland suburbs to take in large portions of Marion, Polk, Yamhill and Washington counties. Democrats enjoy a 26,000-voter registration edge over Republicans, but the district includes enough independents to easily sway an election.

We think Salinas and Noble are best equipped to appeal not just to their respective party faithful, but also to the district’s broad array of potential swing voters.

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